Opinions differ about ozone compliance appeal

2012-07-19T16:50:00Z 2012-07-20T08:18:03Z Opinions differ about ozone compliance appealBy Lauri Harvey Keagle lauri.keagle@nwi.com, (219) 852-4311 nwitimes.com

Two organizations have differing views of the state's decision to sue the Environmental Protection Agency regarding ozone nonattainment designations of Lake and Porter counties.

Mark Maassel, president and CEO of the Northwest Indiana Forum, said the group supports the state's move, saying the Clean Air Car Check program has proven successful and helped the region meet the standard.

“We are hopeful that the state’s petition requesting Lake and Porter counties be returned to the designation of attainment for all pollutants is successful," Maassel said.

State data shows Lake and Porter counties have met all air quality standards since 2009, but recent spikes in ozone levels the week of the July 4 holiday have some questioning whether they will be able to maintain that compliance.

Brian Urbaszewski, director of environmental health programs for the Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago, said Indiana's move is hypocritical given recent high levels of ozone at air quality monitors in Northwest Indiana, which are "higher than the one in Illinois that triggered this whole mess."

"It's extremely disappointing that Governor Daniels seems intent on creating a smoke screen on air quality," Urbaszewski said. "Pretending Northwest Indiana has nothing to do with regional air quality is illogical. There is no magic wall that keeps air pollution from Northwest Indiana from entering Illinois."

Urbaszewski noted recent "red days" at monitors in Northwest Indiana which indicate ozone at levels high enough to impact even the healthiest of people. Illinois has logged no such levels this ozone season.

"They're putting this out at a time when they know they've got a problem and they're trying to create a distraction for a very real issue," Urbaszewski said.

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